Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Life in plastic - it's fantastic

One of the most engaging things I played with when younger (apart from myself) was Lego. I used to spend hours building nothing in particular with windows or wheels. Josh is particularly keen on some of the Lego themes (Knights and Bionicles), but not so much the basic building. On Saturday we had a full family day out at the Legoland theme park in Windsor - we'd been before a couple of years ago but it is much too big to do everything in one day. As you'd expect the main attraction for the kids are the rides - most are just right for Josh and Alex but Isabelle is more into the proper churn your guts up roller-coasters now. In between the obligatory queueing for rides we had a great day out, but one thing I really enjoy at this place is that there are Lego models tucked away all over the place, including birds and a Lego 'safari' viewable from some of the rides. There are also big Lego models of various cities and landmark buildings which really have to be seen - some stand taller than the average bloke. Lego is by far the best thing to come out of Denmark! I've seen some plastic birds in my time, but these really don't take the biscuit ... Yellow-lego'ed Gull House-brick Sparrow Great Spotted Plasticpecker This dragon was huge Edinburgh Castle London Bridge Not the Notre-Dame, actually the Sacre Coeur Eilean Donan Me and Alex on really fast and exciting ride ... Nichola, Josh and Isabelle - who was clearly not overly thrilled on that one A bloody big Lego Pharoah and ice-cream kids

Friday, 28 August 2009

Fruit Shoot - Cossington Meadows 27/08/2009

The long hedgerow running alongside the main track through the meadows is absolutely bursting with fruit at the moment - hawthorn, blackthorn, crab apples, bramble, rose hips and possibly bird cherry and damsons. However given my complete inadequacy in identifying anything vegetative they could all be something else. I refrained from eating anything just in case .... As ever, click for a bigger image. Completely off the fruity theme .... I noticed a lot of this nice yellowy lichen type stuff. And these Exmoor Ponies are quite nice (as equines go).

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Pseudo-birding & NOBS

This afternoon I nipped out with the boys to do some pseudo-birding. As anyone with kids will know, this is where you take them out to somewhere that ostensibly could be interesting bird-wise (like a nature reserve), take your bins and camera (but usually not scope), and then wander around realising that with their lack of patience, fieldcraft and interest you are going to see fuck-all. I'd already anticipated this and therefore avoided what would have been an even more frustrating experience trying to see the juve Monty's that's knocking around Burrough-on-the-Hill. Instead, I entertained myself with a bit of seasonal photography - post to follow. So after a generally birdless amble around Cossington Meadows, we headed home. Going through Kirby Muxloe I was intrigued by a Land Rover with the rear wheel cover bearing a website relating to NOBS. There was a logo with a capped bloke and dog - maybe something to do with 'One Man and His Dog' I thought. Anyway, on checking the said site it was for the National Organisation for Beaters and Pickers-up - ie the hangers on for the shooting and hunting fraternity. Clearly missing a K from their acronym.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

More marked mollusc mumblings

Remember those colour-marked snails? 12 days later and another one pops up. After the rain and strong wind today, there was no point in running the traps tonight but I decided to have a mooch around the garden with a torch. Loads of snails everywhere, including Orange-stripe in roughly the same location in the middle of the lawn, and c1M away there was Orange-spot. Further proof that at least orange nail varnish does not attract Song Thrushes (not sure about yellow and pink!).



A few frogs loitering about as well - caught this one mid-blink.

Blinking Frog

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Classic Tracks - The Jam

This is one of my favourite tracks by The Jam, and a clear classic that should be the music collection of everyone of certain age (c40ish). Can't honestly say I'm into Weller's solo stuff, but the early stuff with Foxton and Buckler is beyond reproach.

Monday, 24 August 2009

From the garden trap, 23/08/2009

Total catch 329 of 43sp. (125W MV 89 of 27sp., 80W actinic 240 of 35sp.) First for year in garden: Eudonia angustea 1 Tissue (Triphosa dubitata) 1 V-Pug (Chloroclystis v-ata) 1 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 123 Light Brown Apple Moth (Epiphyas postvittana) 42 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 25 Square-spot Rustic (Xestia xanthographa) 14 Agriphila geniculea 11 Garden Carpet (Xanthorhoe fluctuata) 10 Lesser Yellow Underwing (Noctua comes) 10 Other highlights: Endotricha flammealis 2 (latest ever for garden) Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi) 1 (latest ever for garden) Gold Spot (Plusia festucae) 7 V-Pug - perhaps surprisingly, this is only the second for the garden (with the first being as long ago as 04/08/2000) Tissue - another second only for the garden (first 04/08/2003) Eudonia angustea

Sugar going sour

Not too much on the sugar last night, just 8 individuals of 5 species: 3 Large Yellow Underwing 2 Common Rustic agg. 1 Mouse Moth 1 Setaceous Hebrew Character 1 White-shouldered House Moth White-shouldered House Moth - small moth, long name My recent sugaring experiences were dampened a little this morning when I noticed that a load of wasps had latched onto the free meal and were on the fence and on the ground immediately below where the sugar drips. I don't mind one or two but 20 - 30 at a time is pushing it when the sugaring spot is right next to the entry/exit to the garden. Drunken Wasps Reminds me that wasps are a clear Mothing Villain - these buggers in the trap will occasionally set about decapitating and eating a load of moths.

Devon trap update

I finally managed to ID that smart micro - Mompha locupletella - a British tick for me. Sadly it had turned its toes and was less than photogenic by the time I had identified it, but there is a very good photo here of what it looks like. Considering how infrequently I have trapped here, there were only four new species for the garden including the Momphid. Total catch was 263 of 38sp. (125W MV 112 of 30sp., 80W actinic 151 of 23sp.) First for garden: Mompha locupletella 2 Pearly Underwing (Peridroma saucia) 1 Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina) 1 Frosted Orange (Gortyna flavago) 1 Highest counts: Large Yellow Underwing (Noctua pronuba) 52 Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta) 37 Small Square-spot (Diarsia rubi) 27 Brimstone Moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) 22 Setaceous Hebrew Character (Xestia c-nigrum) 18 Dingy Footman (Eilema griseola) 16 Flame Carpet (Xanthorhoe designata) 13 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua janthe) 13 Other highlights: Agriphila selasella 2 Garden Pebble (Evergestis forficalis) 1 Rush Veneer (Nomophila noctuella) 4

From the (inlaws) garden trap, 22/08/2009

Back down to North Devon this weekend to pick up the kids - although with Nichola having to work we didn't get going until late on Saturday afternoon and arrived in time to get a couple of traps out. Conditions weren't great - a bit too cool especially with the garden being in a valley with a stream running through. Nothing spectacular in the catch, with the main highlights being a migrant Pearly Underwing and a really smart micro that I currently haven't identified. I'll post more detail tomorrow along with the micro ID. Here's a couple of badly photographed moths - forgot to take the coolight and it was a bit dull and overcast this morning! Pearly Underwing Rosy Rustic - nothing special but this one was relatively fresh Also found a Mothing Mate in the trap - a Forest Bug. Quite like these although the Green Shield Bugs I get in my garden can be annoying when they inexpertly buzz into your face. Forest Bug

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Proud to be ..

... a wingeing pom!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Sallow Snake

Here's the hawk-moth larva I found last night on the overhanging sallow from a neighbouring garden. First things first - I misidentified it last night in haste. It's not a Poplar - it's actually an Eyed Hawk-moth. Quite pleased about this as it's the first time I've seen the larva of this species. It's pretty much fully grown at c70mm - I've boxed it with sallow leaves and hopfully it will pupate successfully so I can photograph the pupa and a superb freshly emerged adult. Eyed Hawk-moth All hawk-moth larvae have 'horns' on their 11th segment Spiracles Typical lepidopteran arrangement (apart from geometridae) - 3 pairs of true legs on 1st - 3rd segments, four pairs of prolegs on 6th - 9th segments, anal claspers on 11th. Frass balls big as midget gems .....

Friday, 21 August 2009

More Sugar Shots, 21/08/2009

Gave the sugaring a miss yesterday, but tonight I've tried again despite the conditions (clear and cool). Final tally is 10 individuals of 8 species: 2 Square-spot Rustic 2 Brimstone Moth 1 Old Lady 1 Silver Y 1 Svensson's Copper Underwing 1 Willow Beauty 1 Large Yellow Underwing 1 Lesser Yellow Underwing Can't fathom why, but using the same camera, torch and settings as on previous nights every shot is too burnt out - almost like the flash unit is working more powerfully! Ended up taking shots by torch light alone which was not ideal but you get the gist. Square-spot Rustic Brimstone Moth Willow Beauty No Gold Spots at the sugar though I can see a few in the actinic trap at least. The 80W Actinic The 125W MV